Friday, December 31, 2010

An Interview with Award-Winning Author Lois Winston

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, a January 2011 release, is the first book in the series and has received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction as well as being an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an associate of the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency (read on to learn how she juggles all three careers.) You can visit her at her website: and visit Anastasia at her blog:
Cassy: You have a wonderfully varied background. Your craft work has won awards right along with your writing. Both are truly creative endeavors, but use different skills. Can you fill us in on how you have switched between those worlds?

Lois: It helps to be totally right brained. Just don’t ask me anything about algorithms or quadratic equations. I really don’t have trouble moving back and forth from designing to writing. They’re both creative endeavors. I’ll often design in the morning and write in the afternoon. What really gives me trouble is moving from designing cross stitch to designing needlepoint. Unless you’re familiar with both, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about, though. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. It pretty much fries my brain.

Cassy: Do you still keep up with your handwork? I used to do a lot of knitting. It's really time consuming. I'm not sure I could balance both that and my writing at this point. Do you have a secret?
Lois: I sure do have a secret: I don’t actually execute the pieces I design. I employ several women who stitch models for me. Besides that, many of the publishers and companies I design for have their own stitchers.

Cassy: Anastasia Pollack hits the streets in January with Assault with the Deadly Glue Gun. I have a confession to make here, Pollack is my maiden name and my eyes "glued" right onto that! Well, back to the questions. Trouble attacks Anastasia right from the start. You have a wonderful sense of humor. Can you tell us about where Anastasia came from (idea-wise I'm talking here)?
Lois: Cassy, we’ll have to compare your family tree with Anastasia’s. You could be distant relatives.You know the Greek myth about Athena springing full grown from the forehead of Zeus? That’s pretty much how Anastasia was born. Only Zeus had nothing to do with it. Several years ago an editor told my agent that she was looking for a crafting mystery. My agent figured, who better to write a crafting mystery than one of her clients who’s also a crafts designer? So she called me. Anastasia sprang to mind almost instantly. Unfortunately, shortly after we submitted the manuscript, the editor moved on to another house and was no longer buying mysteries. So although conception was nearly instantaneous, labor lasted several years before the book sold.

Cassy: Anastasia strikes me as someone who might be with us for a while. Is she planned to show up again in a sequel, or even better than that in a series?
Lois: Definitely a series. I’ve already turned in the second book, Mop Doll Murders, which will be out in January 2012. There’s an excerpt at the end of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. And I’m contracted for a third book with an option for a fourth. I’m hoping Anastasia sticks around for a very long time.

Cassy: How does Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun differ from your other books? And, while you're answering that, would you talk a little about the different genres you have written?
Lois: Talk Gertie To Me, a humorous women’s fiction book about a daughter severing the apron strings and her mother’s reaction to empty nest syndrome, was the first book I sold. In many ways the voice and humor in that book are similar to the voice and humor in Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. My second published book was Love, Lies and d Double Shot of Deception, a romantic suspense. It was actually the first book I ever wrote and is much darker and more emotional in both the themes and the writing.I find I have both a light, humorous side to my writing and a darker, edgier side. However, right now I think the world needs to laugh more. I know I do. There’s too much dark, edgy stuff going on in real life. So for now I’m concentrating on Anastasia and her quirky relatives.
Cassy: We all want to ask about how you write. Could you give us a description of your day? Your name appears on just about every blog/loop/list I belong to. How do you get so much done?
Lois: It’s all in the cloning technology, Cassy. I wish I could bottle it and sell it. I’d make a fortune. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to do that until we get FDA approval, and the red tape has been a nightmare. (It also helps that my kids are grown, so I’m beyond the carpooling stage of my life.)

Cassy: What comes next????
Lois: As I mentioned above, I have more Anastasia Pollack mysteries to write. I also have proposals written for several other amateur sleuth series and a few stand-alone books.

Cassy: Lois, please add anything you want: family, pets, hobbies, and so on. Our readers LOVE that. Also please add anything about writing, style, editing, and so on. I hate putting those type of topics into questions for they sound stilted and forced. But, do have at it if it works for you.
Lois: Writing: I used to be a “pantser,” but I’m now a reluctant “plotter.” The good news is that once you sell a book, you usually don’t have to finish the next manuscript before you sell it. You can submit on proposal. The bad news is that the proposal includes a synopsis, so you have to know exactly how your story is going to unfold and have all your little duckies lined up. This saves a lot of time in that if editors aren’t interested in a particular story, you haven’t wasted months and months working on it. However, it does take some of the magic out of the writing process for me. If I already know what’s going to happen, the actual writing of the story becomes more work and less play.I’ve also found that writing humorous books is a lot harder than writing emotional books because I never know if readers will “get” the funny parts. Humor is very subjective. It’s a lot easier to tug on a reader’s heart strings. What makes one person laugh out loud will often leave another person totally cold.
Family/pets/hobbies: I have two sons who are grown. If I told you how old they are, you’d be able to figure out my age, so I’m not going to do that. Publishing is too youth-obsessed as it is! As for pets, do dust bunnies count? My favorite thing to do when I’m not working is to go to the theater. We’re “bridge and tunnel” New Yorkers, and there’s always something worth seeing on Broadway. Unfortunately, even with the ability to buy half-priced tickets, I haven’t been indulging my theater addiction as much as I used to or would like to, thanks to this damn recession, but if sales of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun are good (sending up a prayer here to the publishing gods,) I’m definitely treating myself and my husband to tickets to see Sister Act when it arrives in the spring.
So what else do I want to tell all of you? Indulge me as I mention Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, Anastasia’s blog. It’s set up as the online companion to the magazine where Anastasia works. Every day a different “editor” blogs with crafts projects, recipes, decorating tips, etc. Book Club Fridays feature guest authors, most of whom give away copies of their books. To enter the weekly drawings, all you have to do is post a comment to the blog at any point during the week. You can find Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers at
Thank for inviting me to blog here at Mysteries and Margaritas today, Cassy!
In celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Lois is doing a blog tour beginning today and lasting through January. You can find the schedule on her website,, and at Anastasia’s blog, Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the tour will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email Lois privately at to let her know you’ve entered. In addition, she’ll also be giving away an assortment of crafts books on various blogs, so look for those if as well.


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great interview Lois and Cassy! I love your books, Lois. Can't wait to read this new mystery series. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I love humorous books.

I am just beginning to think about promoting my mystery. What do you find works best for promoting a series like this?

RK Charron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the wonderful interview with Lois Winston. I hadn't been aware of her before now. Thank you to Lois for such indepth responses!
Happy New Year,

Lois Winston said...

Kari, good question. I'm not sure I have an answer, though. I'm hoping this blog tour I'm doing will work, but ask me again after I see sales figures and that first royalty check!

Hi RK! Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year!

Liz Lipperman said...

Lois, welcome to M & M. I remember when TALK GERTY TO ME was tearing up the contest circuit. As a fellow cozy author, I can't wait to read this series.

My question for you today is how long does it take to write a story? I am a pathetically slow writer, so I'm always interested in other successful techniques besides the obvious one - BICHOK.

Good luck on your blog tour and your new book, BTW. I'll be watching for it.

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks Lois and Cassy, great interview. Lois I had to go to your web site and see all your books. I love the title 'Talk Gertie to me' LOL that just say's You gotta read me, now.

Thanks for sharing everything.
Happy New Year everyone!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Liz! I

To answer your question, 've always worked at jobs that were deadline driven. So if I know something has to be done by a certain date, it gets done by that date, often sooner. I like to give myself a little padding just in case "stuff" happens -- like getting the flu or unexpected company or power failures.

I know some authors who wait until a month or 6 weeks before their book deadline to start writing. I think that's absolutely crazy! I'd never want that kind of pressure.

Bottom line, though, is it all boils down to BICHOK. Nothing else is going to get that book written.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Mary! TALK GERTIE TO ME is currently out of print, but you might be able to find a copy through one of the secondary vendors at Amazon or B&N. I hope to have it up as an e-book at some point in the coming year.

Kari Wainwright said...

I see I'm not the only Kari here, but I am the lucky Kari who won the craft books recently. I'm looking forward to seeing what they entail. In the past, I've done both needlepoint and cross stitch as well as fabric painting and ceramics.

Haven't been doing many crafts lately so maybe the books will inspire me in the new year.

In the meantime, I love a humorous mystery, so wouldn't mind being lucky again and winning a copy of Assault with a Glue Gun. Sounds like a sticky situation.

gkw9000 [at]

Lois Winston said...

Kari, thanks for stopping by. Your crafts books are in the mail to you. Hope you enjoy them! As for winning ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, you never know.

Becke Davis said...

What a great interview! Lois has got a winner with this new series, and I love Anastasia's blog, too!

Lois Winston said...

Hi Becke! Thanks for the shout out for my book and Anastasia's blog.